Been watching a new American TV series, Switched at Birth. As the name implies, it’s a case of two babies ending up with the wrong parents. The mistake comes to light 16 years later, and Bay Kennish and Daphne Vasquez get a glimpse into what their lives might have been like.
While Switched at Birth is fiction, these Australian mothers’ had a little taste of a baby switch drama. Fortunately, they didn’t have to wait a decade and a half, and the switch was discovered by the hospital authorities in about eight hours!
Back to the series, as a result of studying about blood groups in school, Bay gets a DNA test to see why her blood type doesn’t match her parents’. She discovers that she isn’t biologically related to her parents; her genetic mother is Regina Vasquez, a struggling single parent and a former alcoholic. Regina, in turn, is the other party in the baby switch that happened 16 years ago. Her daughter Daphne is the Kennishes’ biological child.
Of course, it is an all-round shock, for the girls as well as their families. Daphne and Bay are in many ways typical teenagers, but both are unusual in their own right. Daphne has been brought up not to consider her hearing impairment as a disability and is a remarkably well-adjusted young woman (though she does attend a school for the hearing-impaired) with a talent for basketball (sharing her sporting acumen with her biological father). Bay might be slightly spoilt, thanks to her affluent background and never having had to want for anything, but is rather lonely in her artistic pursuits (something she, again, shares with her biological mother).
Overall, the Kennish parents come across as pushy and unable to understand or respect Daphne’s acceptance of her non-hearing-ness as normal (see deaf pride). Regina Vasquez on her part seems a little hesitant to come close to Bay, though the two clearly share a creative temperament.
Switched at Birth is unusual given the presence of so many deaf characters—Regina and Daphne’s friends. It gives viewers a glimpse into a new world and also helps one re-examine some of the hearing privileges one takes for granted.
Coming at a time when every new TV series gives one a sense of “huh, that looks/sounds familiar”, Switched at Birth is worth watching for managing to find something interestingly different (even though the story line is very Bollywoodish otherwise).
Oh, and try not to think of Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano) as “Luke’s daughter in Gilmore Girls!